With a fully reconstructed and extensively characterized neural circuit, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is a promising model system for integrating our understanding of neuronal, circuit and whole-animal dynamics. Fundamental to addressing this challenge is the need to consider the tight neuronal-environmental coupling that allows the animal to survive and adapt to changing conditions. Locomotion behaviors are affected by environmental variables both at the biomechanical level and via adaptive sensory responses that drive and modulate premotor and motor circuits. Here we review significant advances in our understanding of proprioceptive control of locomotion, and more abstract models of spatial orientation and navigation. The growing evidence of the complexity of the underlying circuits suggests that the intuition gained is but the first step in elucidating the secrets of neural computation in this relatively simple system.
Copyright © 2013. Published by Elsevier Ltd.